Jun 6, 2015, 2:58 PM EDT
GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Called up from Double-A Harrisburg for a spot start, rookie Joe Ross pitched admirably in his major league debut but it wasn’t enough to overcome yet another poor showing from the Nationals’ lineup in a 4-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Saturday afternoon.
The Nats broke out for seven runs the night before, but were not able to carry that over into the weekend. Their lone runs came on homers by Wilson Ramos, his fourth of the 2015 season, and Bryce Harper, his 19th. Harper’s came in the ninth inning with zero outs.
Ross began the game by setting down the first nine batters he faced and went five innings with three runs allowed. He lit up the radar gun with mid-90s fastballs and was borderline dominant through the first turn of the Cubs’ batting order.
Jason Hammel, however, was much better. He tossed eight innings of two-run ball on 100 pitches.
With the loss the Nats fell to 30-26 on the season. It is their seventh defeat in their last nine games.
HITTING LOWLIGHT: Ramos and Harper’s homers were two of only five hits for the Nationals, who are averaging 2.6 runs in their last 16 games. After Ramos’ bomb in the second inning, it took 18 at-bats for Clint Robinson to record the Nats’ next hit on an infield single. Harper also added a single in the first inning and a Danny Espinosa smacked a ground-rule double in the eighth.
Hammel won yet again against the Nats and is now 9-0 against the team in 11 career starts. He finished with two runs allowed on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.
PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Ross came out of the gates reaching 95 miles per hour with his fastball and baffling the Cubs’ lineup with hard-breaking sliders. Through the first turn of the lineup he was perfect, setting down the first nine batters in order with three of them on strikeouts.
Ross ran into trouble the second time through the order, however, and finished with three earned runs on five innings with no walks and six hits allowed. Two of those runs came in the fifth inning before he exited for Felipe Rivero. Ross gave up a bunt single to Jonathan Herrera, who scored on a Dexter Fowler single two batters later. Anthony Rizzo then doubled Fowler home for the Cubs’ third run of the afternoon.
Rivero was also solid with three scoreless innings. He now holds a 1.69 ERA through three career outings. Taylor Hill took over after him and allowed a Cubs insurance run in the ninth on a single by Herrera to score Miguel Montero.
KEY STAT(S): Ross is the 81st player to make his MLB debut in a Nationals uniform. The Nats have had seven rookies debut already this season. The team record for a full season is nine (2006-08, 2011).
Harper has a teammate younger than him for the first time in his career, as Ross was born on May 21, 1993. Harper was born on Oct. 16, 1992.
UP NEXT: The Nationals and Cubs close this series with their final matchup of the 2015 season in a 4:05 p.m. start. Jordan Zimmermann (5-2, 2.88) and Kyle Hendricks (1-2, 3.99) will be your starting pitchers.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
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